Reading the Bible in Context: an Indonesian and a Mexican Commentary on Ecclesiastes: Contextual Interpretations

In: Exchange


This article discusses first of all a theological commentary on Ecclesiastes, written by the Indonesian biblical scholar E.G. Singgih. The main question thereby is: what is the role of the context in this commentary? Besides the international exegetical discourse, the relationships of power and the situation of the local churches appear to be of influence in his exegesis. God is presented as 'the boss', who rules in an incomprehensible way. All people 'live under the shadow of death' (cf. the title of the commentary). This interpretation is then compared with a commentary of the liberation theologian, Elsa Tamez. She places Ecclesiastes — and herself — in the context of the market and its oppressive capitalism, hoping that finally God shall replace this time of 'vanity' by better times. This article shows that 'context' is not an objective factor, but that, consciously or unconsciously, authors choose a certain context — and this influences their reading of texts.

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